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Female cardinals?

Female cardinals?

Pope Francis has said repeatedly that he wants to see greater roles for women in the Roman Catholic Church, and some argue that he could take a giant step in that direction by appointing women to the College of Cardinals.

This has led to a lot of speculation, even though there is absolutely no sign it would happen.


Whether it’s even possible is a matter of debate. But that hasn’t stopped the feverish speculation, which was sparked last month by an article in a Spanish newspaper in which Juan Arias, a former priest who writes from Brazil, wrote that the idea “is not a joke. It’s something that Pope Francis has thought about before: naming a woman cardinal.”

Arias quoted an unnamed priest — a Jesuit, like Francis – who said: “Knowing this pope, he wouldn’t hesitate before appointing a woman cardinal. … And he would indeed enjoy being the first pope to allow women to participate in the selection of a new pontiff.”

That was enough to start the ball rolling. The report was quickly picked up by Catholic media in Italy and then raced around a church that, in the months since Francis’ election, has been primed to expect the unexpected from this pope.

So who would they pick?

The Rev. James Keenan, a Jesuit and moral theologian at Boston College suggested a list that included Linda Hogan, a professor of ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin; Sister Teresa Okure, a theology professor at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Nigeria; and Maryanne Loughry, associate director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia.

(Pssst, guys. If you can’t get around that rule that only Bishops can be Cardinals… we might have a few ideas. Give us a call.)


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Maryse Quinn

I’d suggest Sister Joan Chittister, but I’m holding out for her running for Pope.


I thought I remembered that there was no impediment to, and that in fact there had been cardinals who were lay. According to Wikipedia, there have been several (, although is it notes all were in Minor Orders. Per the same article that’s not current canon law; but if dispensatsions have been granted to male religious, could they not be granted to female religious?

Not that I’m holding my breath or anything….

Marshall Scott

Wayne Sherrer

It was St. Ambrose who was elected bishop of Milan, while still unbaptized. Within a week of his election he was baptized, ordained and consecrated as a bishop. Augustine was ordained 4 years after his baptism and consecrated bishop 4 years after ordination.


[Ann, was it Augustine (of Hippo) who was baptized, ordained priest, and consecrated bishop on the same day?]

Female cardinals in the RCC? I’ll believe it when I see it…

JC Fisher

Geoffrey McLarney

The norm of drawing cardinals from the episcopate has been set aside before, notably for Cardinal Dulles, who as a Jesuit was not supposed to be accept preferment (don’t ask me how the present Pope squares that) and was dispensed from episcopal ordination.

At the moment, the only two religious groups in the world with female cardinals are the syncretic Vietnamese religion Cao Dai and the Church of England (specifically St Paul’s Cathedral). The latter, being entitled to the same dress as any other cathedral canon, would seem to back up J.B. Chilton’s point about males showing off!

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